Miralfiore Urban Park

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

The Miralfiore Urban Park is in the very heart of Pesaro, close to the railway station to which is connected by an underpass. It covers about 50 acres, it is crossed by a cycle path and an elevated pedestrian path, as well as surrounded by trees and bushes. Full of nice quite evocative sights, it is much appreciated by the citizens, also thanks to the large elliptical square and the natural amphitheatre, home to outdoor events and yoga classes.

This park is also a true testament to some prominent local families (Della Rovere, Castelbarco, and Albani) as it’s a remarkable example of successful urban planning with a perfect blend of traces of the past with biodiversity preservation, without forgetting leisure and sports opportunities.

The green facility is part of the large redevelopment project of the area led by Fulco Pratesi and launched in 1996; the agronomists and landscape architects Sabina Filippi and Alberto Giangolini, of Studio Associato Landesign from Pesaro, took an active part in it between 2000 and 2009.

The part of the property that is now public used to be thriving farm, where the typical elements of the Pesaro agricultural landscape have been preserved or reintroduced, such as rows of fruit trees and willows along the ditches, fields arranged according to traditional agricultural rotations, as well as traces of ancient vineyards.

On the side of the park facing the river, there is a fenced area of about 20 acres entrusted to the WWF: it includes a large lake and a naturalistic reserve aimed at promoting flora and fauna biodiversity. Several species of birds live near the lake, including grey herons, cormorants, some moorhens, kingfishers, and many common ducks – they can be observed from a special hut.
Part of the lake is used as a pond and features a short underwater tunnel: through its glass, it is possible to observe the aquatic fauna and flora. Another visitor route runs across a “butterfly house”.

Large areas are dedicated to wild meadows, where numerous orchids grow, another to butterflies, with nectar plants, and yet another to the hygrophilic forest (which humidity).
The grassy expanse punctuated by two parallel rows of trees is of great effect: one row is made of cypresses and the other of ancient pear trees – the same arrangement of another row of young pear trees, belonging to the same ancient variety.

On the sides of via Solferino and via Cimarosa, there are areas which were restored in the first half of the last century: they feature beautiful conifers, while around the villa in the park – called Villa Albani or Villa Miralfiore, and its Italian garden (all part of a private property private and not open to visitors) – there is a historic wood (partly open to the public) rich in domestic pines, Aleppo pines, holm oaks, downy oaks, and spectacular linden trees.

The history of Villa Miralfiore and its park
(excerpt from the historical report kindly provided by Alberto Giangolini, Studio Associati Landesign):

Miralfiori park is what remains of the vast estate of the Albani family that surrounded Villa Miralfiore and extended from the city walls to the first sluice of the Foglia River – located approximately at the height of Villa S. Martino. As highlighted in the historical report, except for the actual Park of the Villa, that was an area intensely used for agricultural production, which nevertheless still retained several “natural” and pristine elements especially near the flooding area of the Foglia River – over there, “swamps”, riparian willow groves and vast areas of reeds would be found.

Among the historic gardens of the region, Villa Miralfiore and its gardens still appear today as the most remarkable example of geographical arrangement in full compliance with architectural needs.

This place has shaped the area surrounding the city of Pesaro for centuries, representing the connecting element between the town and the countryside.

Located in the immediate outskirts of Pesaro (….), the property, which today covers an area of about 62 acres, has a flat position, even if at the time of its maximum splendour the gardens surrounding the villa were arranged on terraces, in the typical style of the past.
The terracing of the main parterre is still visible with its compartmentalized geometries made of boxwood, while the main decorative elements made in the XVI century, such as the pergola and the large fish pond, have unfortunately disappeared.

Built as an agricultural estate and then transformed into a villa (the works started in 1559), this property was eventually bought by Duke Guidobaldo II Della Rovere. The villa has always played a main role in the governance of the territory around the city of Pesaro, especially because it was erected near the main access road and, at the same time, appeared as a green “wedge” between the axis of the Foglia River and the Albani Canal. (……) this estate was considered the best farm in the district and, at the same time, a place of greatest prestige for its owner.

Villa Miralfiore has strongly contributed to influencing historical, cultural and social events, being the place of official representation par excellence, as well as a popular resort for travelling nobles and members of the royal families – everybody seemed to enjoy its informal and most welcoming atmosphere, as well as some very pleasant accommodation opportunities.

Furthermore, the abundance of water resources due to the presence of the Foglia River and its canals further enriched its agricultural output; this estate also used to play a role of fundamental importance in the local water regulation which, over the centuries, have been always carried out in order to cope with the flooding of the river and the reclamation of the marshy land surrounding the city of Pesaro (….).
According to the first existing records, Miralfiore was a property of the Catholic church in 1438 and, allegedly, it included the “Osservanza” church and convent.
Later, after a few changes of ownership, the villa was acquired by Pier Simone Bonamini in the early XVI century. The new owner soon began to transform the country residence into a delightful residence. The official documents also mention a very high financial value of this estate.

Starting in 1559, the Della Rovere Dukes bought the property and made expansion and embellishment works: in 1583, fish ponds, springs and water features were already under construction, with the contribution of famous architects, including Bartolomeo Genga. (…).

Subsequently, the Medici of Florence acquired the villa and kept the property until 1756 when it passed into the hands of the House of LorraineThen, the Apostolic Chamber acquired the property and granted it in emphyteusis to the Alban princes of Urbino – their descendants, the Counts of Castelbarco, then became the new and current owners (…).

The water resources source of wealth of Villa Miralfiore

Some XVI century chronicles describe in detail the wealth of water of the property, an element that made it possible to enrich the gardens with new springs, water games, fish ponds, canals and bridges according to the typical style of the past; in particular, all the games water were created inside a specially built cave, which splashes and jets hidden in some stone seats to surprise and entertain the visitors.

The gardens and the Miralfiore estate in the 18th century

When the Apostolic Holy See took possession of the Miralfiore estate around the middle of the XVIII century, Cavalier Bonamici was asked to put together a comprehensive and detailed survey about the state of conservation of the garden.
Other surveys carried out later (and still treasured in the archive of Villa Miralfiore), described in detail the agricultural estate annexed to the noble residence.
According to those documents, it was possible to reconstruct the XVIII century arrangement of Villa Miralfiore and its possessions.

The plan of the palace and the gardens of Miralfiore prepared by Bonamici describes the presence of three gardens called: the “garden below”, the “garden above”, and the “garden of the fountains” (…).
As far as the agricultural estate annexed to the building is concerned, the XVIII century chronicles include a detailed inventory of its consistency and report about an area of 22.934 “Canne di Pesaro” (…).

Fields and ditches occupied the entire agricultural area with arable land alternating with patches of agricultural lawns with lines of trees, vineyards, and reeds. The local nursery is also described along with its 1.159 field maples, 8.000 vines, 754 black mulberries, 17 almond trees, and 64 assorted fruit trees.
There is also a very interesting description of special essences such as citrus fruits in clay pots, flowers, fragrant herbs, cedar trees from Calabria, lemons, bergamots, Catalonian jasmine, and carnations.

Villa Miralfiore as a Renaissance example of territorial planning

The gardens and the agricultural estate of Villa Miralfiore are still considered as a wonderful example of Renaissance architecture; their contribution of architectural invariants have helped canonizing the transformation of the territory by anthropic hand, through the introduction of a semiological process that highlights symmetry, eurythmy and regular layouts as fundamental elements of the building.

The square and the rectangular geometric elements repeated in modules are still recognizable today both within the gardens and throughout the agricultural portion; they are a testament to the efforts of the architects who wanted to give the territory an orderly and logical arrangement; the latter would starts from the perception of “beauty” as a natural element, manipulated and turned artificial and artistic through the reading of perspective.
All in all, a vision of Villa Miralfiore and its gardens can be conjured as an ideal continuation of the urban structure of Renaissance Pesaro, with its layouts, its paths and its symmetries that also extend outside the walls, shaping the territory giving it an order, a sign of civilization and advanced culture.

Alberto Giangolini landscape agronomist

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


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